I was talking with a friend yesterday about the importance of getting to know something before you hate on it. Obviously there are things you can hate without knowing them, like a serial killer. Or an animal abuser. Or a child pornographer. I think we can all agree that we don’t need to sit down to tea with people like this in order to dislike them. (Though as writers, we may find something in that teatime conversation that makes them into a well-rounded antagonist – again, something most of us probably don’t want to do.)
But I hate Goodreads.com.
There. I said it. I realize this is like saying “I don’t think Bradley Cooper is good-looking.” I realize that for a reader and an aspiring author, this is probably a Kiss of Death. So be it.
I’ve tried to get into it. I’ve tried to give it a chance. And to be fair, I did find my new favorite YA series, “Shades of London” by Maureen Johnson, there two weeks ago.
But there are so many things to hate about it. The layout. The font. (News flash: the rest of the world uses sans-serif fonts for a reason.) The God-awful number of typos on the site (for a site about READING, the number of typos I can find on just one page of Goodreads’ own policies – not reviews, but content that they post, is ludicrous. Get. A. Proofreader. I cannot take a site seriously if it has that many typos.).
But most of it comes down to the PEOPLE on the site – the reviewers.
As far as I can tell, most of the people who leave reviews on Goodreads fall into the following categories:
- People who spent most of middle school being shoved into lockers or trash cans. Or both.
- People who turn to Goodreads to torment people because if they didn’t, they’d be well on their way to becoming serial killers.
- People who SERIOUSLY need to go get lives. Who need to go volunteer in a soup kitchen or a humane society and see what life is really like outside four bedroom walls and the covers of a book.
- People who are so pathetic that the only way they can feel good about themselves is to bring others down.
Goodreads’ own policies encourage this behavior. In their Review Guidelines, they come right out and say “Goodreads has some of the best book reviews anywhere. Our members are passionate, knowledgeable readers, and their contributions to the site are what make it such a vibrant and fun place.”
Another quote from their Review Guidelines: “Don’t be afraid to say what you think about the book! We welcome your passion, as it helps the millions of other readers on Goodreads learn what a book is really about, and decide whether or not they want to read it. We believe that Goodreads members should see the best, most relevant, thought provoking reviews (positive and negative) when they visit a book page. Our job is to show members those reviews, and not show reviews that we deem to not be appropriate or a high enough level of quality.”
In other words, we here at Goodreads are too lazy to figure out what’s trash and what isn’t, and intend to rely on the community to police themselves. Members *can* flag posts they feel are inappropriate and/or break the rules. But I’m willing to bet that none of these are ever removed.
News flash, reviewers: A pathetic attempt to make yourself feel better by trashing someone else’s work – or worse, trashing someone else – is just that: pathetic. It shows that you have zero maturity, zero self-control, and frankly, zero self-confidence. Your attempts to be clever are not clever in the slightest.
Those of us who truly love books and writing are out doing what we love to do, not wasting countless hours trying to convince everyone else that We Are Right and You Are Wrong by writing long, involved, and nasty reviews of books we may OR MAY NOT have read. We hold rational discussions. We recognize – because we’re writers, too – that the book you so zealously and callously demolish in your review is someone’s baby. As such, it deserves respect. That person got off their ass and wrote something, and finished it, and it was good enough to get published (unless it was self-published). That’s more than YOU have ever done, I’m sure of it.
(For clarification, here are links to Goodreads’ guidelines, as well as another page explaining in more detail what is and what might not be allowed. I still find these to be as fuzzy as a Persian cat wearing a mink stole.)